Across the globe, young women and men are making an important contribution as productive workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, citizens, members of society and agents of change. All too often, the full potential of young people is not realized because they do not have access to productive and decent jobs. Although they are an asset, many young people face high levels of economic and social uncertainty. A difficult transition into the world of work has long-lasting consequences not only for youth but also for their families and communities.
Links Between the Development of Knowledge and of Practical Skills
In the current global context of complex economic challenges, skills and employability have emerged as areas of high priority for policy-makers. A key goal for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills systems is ensuring that learners are ready to enter work and possess skills relevant to the labor market, and a strategy commonly adopted by countries in pursuit of this goal has been to incorporate work-based learning into education and training programmes. Work-based learning, which takes many forms and is known by a variety of names, provides learners with exposure to real work environments and, when delivered effectively, allows for strong pedagogical links between the development of knowledge and of practical skills. Exposure to authentic work contexts also contributes to the exploration and development of occupational identity, which cannot be achieved through programmes that are delivered only in education and training institutions. Nevertheless, it remains a challenge for many education and training institutions to effectively incorporate work-based learning into their programme offerings. In this context, the need for more effective work-based learning practices has become increasingly evident.
Source: EMPLOYMENT Working Paper No. 242 (2018)
Given the generally positive evidence of the benefits of work-based learning, governments and social partners should continue efforts to expand the provision of this kind of learning. However, expanding the provision of formal, structured work-based learning will require enhanced partnerships between the State and the private sector. While effective work-based learning relies on partnerships at the local level between individual workplaces and individual education and training institutions, at a system or policy level the private sector should be given opportunities to lead policy and strategy to expand the provision of work-based learning opportunities on terms that are attractive to employers. The Asian Development Bank has argued that to improve the outcomes of work-based learning, countries should review their TVET systems through a work-based learning lens, partner with employer associations to pilot work-based learning in selected sectors, require a work-based learning component to be included within infrastructure projects, and support public and private training institutions so that more TVET programmes combine on- and off-the-job training. These are particularly relevant recommendations for developing economies, where informal work-based learning remains particularly prevalent, and, with the addition of institutional provision, is increasingly being formalized.
Better Knowledge about Work-Based Learning
A necessary adjunct to these policy-led approaches is the collection of more, and more robust, data on the prevalence and labor market outcomes of work-based learning, chiefly for employers, but also for the wider target audience for social marketing efforts, governments, and individuals alike. If data on the benefits of work-based learning is more readily available and are used to argue for increased participation by employers and education and training institutions, then the growing demand from learners themselves will be more readily accommodated.
Efforts to build the knowledge base and share more robust data on work-based learning will continue to be compromised if a more coherent approach to the definition and classification of work-based learning schemes is not developed. In the absence of this more coherent approach, evidence-based policy-making will continue to be hampered by the fog that envelops efforts to compare and contrast work-based learning schemes, despite the apparent positive benefits these schemes offer to learners, employers and governments alike.
Lucubrate Magazine, Issue 44, October 26th, 2018
The photo on top: Odua Images
The text is from the ILO EMPLOYMENT Working Paper No. 242: Does work-based learning facilitate transitions to decent work? (ILO 2018)